Do I have to pay a parking ticket?
Published 7 March 2017
Find out when you need to pay it.
If you’ve got a parking ticket you think is unfair, is it better just to pay it off straight away or should you try to fight it? In fact, do you have to pay a parking ticket at all?
It all depends where you got the parking ticket and if you got it on private land, you might not actually have to pay it if it’s not a fair amount. Let’s go through when you have to pay for a parking ticket and when you don’t – and what you can do to fight any unfair charges.
Is it private land or council-owned?
You can’t ignore parking tickets from a local authority. That’s because you’ll get one of these if you park too long on public land in an area called a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) – and they’ve got the backing of the law. Parking tickets for CPZs are Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).
But if you get a parking ticket for staying too long or breaking the rules on private land – like a supermarket or restaurant car park – this isn’t the same as a PCN. You might see a private parking ticket called a Parking Charge Notice that looks very similar to a council parking ticket but it isn’t the same thing. You don’t have to pay these by law so if you think you’ve got one for an unfair reason, you shouldn’t just automatically pay it.
Of course, that’s not to say you should just ignore all private parking tickets. Landowners can legally charge you for parking on their land and fine you if you break the rules. But what they can’t do is charge you too much or fine you if they didn’t have adequate signs to tell you how long you could stay.
So if you were only a couple of minutes late back to your car and you got a £200 fine or if the parking rules sign had fallen down, it might be worth challenging the parking ticket.
If you don’t pay it
You shouldn’t just ignore a parking ticket from a private company, even if you think it’s unfair and you want to challenge it. Instead, you should get in touch with the parking company and let them know you want to fight it.
First off, check if the parking company is a member of a trade body like the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC). It might say this on the parking ticket but if it doesn’t, search for the parking company online to check if they’re in a trade body. If they are, it’s easier to fight the ticket.
Try going through the parking company’s appeals process before you do anything else. This usually means writing to them or filling in a form online. Tell them why you think the ticket was unfair and most of the time, this will be enough for them to cancel the ticket.
But if they don’t, you can escalate your challenge to the appropriate parking trade body. You can find out how to do this online – you’ll need to go through Parking On Private Land Appeals (POPLA) if the parking company is in the BPA or the Independent Appeals Service (IAS) if they’re in the IPC.
If the parking company isn’t in a trade body, you can only appeal to them directly instead. Write to them and explain why you shouldn’t have to pay the ticket and make sure to include any evidence to support this.
But if the parking company disagrees with you and you still want to pursue the challenge, they can take you to court to fight this. Don’t worry – this is unlikely to happen if you’ve got a genuine reason why you shouldn’t have to pay it.
Looking to challenge a parking fine from the council instead? Here’s what you can do about unfair council parking tickets.